Torea Frey

Editor, writer, photographer, observer on the street.

Speedboat and Pitch Dark, Renata Adler

At the Rumpus, Menachem Kaiser well evokes the "special sort of mystification" of reading Adler's (anti-)novels. In the spirit of Kaiser's excellent essay, I present a few of my favorite renatas---Kaiser's preferred term for Adler's discursive "observations, anecdotes, pensees, diatribes, jokes, tragedies, mini set pieces, monologues, and etc."

From Speedboat, on the point and pointlessness: 

What is the point. That is what must be borne in mind. Sometimes the point is really who wants what. Sometimes the point is a momentum, a fact, a quality, a voice, an intimation, a thing said or unsaid. Sometimes it's who's at fault, or what will happen if you do not move at once. The point changes and goes out. You cannot be forever watching for the point, or you lose the simplest thing: being a major character in your own life.

And another from Speedboat, on finding one's way: 

.. what if one's son (or, and this seems unimaginable, daughter) simply, from the first and in every way, doesn't turn out right, or is unhappy all his life, what then? I don't know what then. 'You can't miss it' always means you're never going to find it. The shortest distance between two points may well be the wrong way on a one way street. All the same, all the same, I think there's something to be said for assuring the next that the water's fine---quite warm, actually---once you get into it. You can't miss it. It could be that the sort of sentence one wants right here is the kind that runs, and laughs, and slides, and stops right on a dime.

From Pitch Dark, on losing and finding:

What I wish I had not lost is the photograph of him, the only nice one. What I wish I had not lost is the ticket for my raincoat at the shoe repair shop. What I wish I had not lost is the suitcase with the letters. What I wish I had not lost is the time, or the inventory of the lost things, or the consciousness of all the things that are not lost.

And again, from Pitch Dark, on the sentences that bend your ear:

I look at you for signs of leaving me and find to my despair that one of us has already left. Maybe it’s me. But, if it’s me, I always do come back, or always have. Please don’t go. Writing is always, in part, bending somebody’s ear. As reading is. In the matter of the commas. In the matter of the question marks. In the matter of the tenses. In the matter of the scandal at the tennis courts.